REVIEW: Vin Diesel Fuels ‘Riddick,’ Film Mired By Dialogue

Movies & TV

/ September 6, 2013

David Twohy and Vin Diesel’s space-age anti-hero return flick sits at a 59% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Does this mean the flick is skippable, or a guaranteed hit?

Starring Vin Diesel as the gravelly voiced, visually impaired, deadpan-inducing outlaw named Riddick, the film finds our resident badass “getting sloppy.” It has been nine years since David Twohy’s intergalactic predator has been seen on the big screen. Their 2004 successor to Pitch Black was a dud at the box office, but inadvertently fueled fans into a fervor, and created a cult following for the character.

With an animated film and a pair of video games in the can, Riddick (Diesel) returns in this CGI-and-action fueled sequel that stumbles clumsily with some ridiculous dialogue.

The convict has been dropped as the Lord Marshal of the Necromongers on a desolate “no name” planet. Grievously wounded on a terrain inhabited by a host of unfriendly native creatures, the film aims straight-to-the-point as a return to the basics for all parties involved. Co-writer/director David Twohy crafts a story that allows Vin Diesel to flourish in the role of the Furyan felon, which more closely resembles the structure and style of Pitch Black (2000). As Diesel’s character learns the lay of the land, the film’s CGI (albeit not Avatar level graphics) creates some startling moments of excitement, and ends with Riddick finding his first on-screen “canine” companion.

Coming across an abandoned station, he scans himself and sends out a distress call, knowing that that will reverberate throughout the universe. A hefty bounty also lays upon his head, so there’s no stone that an interplanetary bounty hunter would turn over to collect Riddick, dead or alive. The respective “mercs” — that’s with a hard ‘c’ — are led by Santana (played expertly by Jordi Mollà) and Boss Johns (Matt Nable). Without spoiling the film, the tandem fight one another uniquely as they search for the escaped former king of the Necromongers, and never suspect a bigger looming threat. There are even several word-for-word references littered throughout the picture that harken back to Pitch Black that will go over the heads of first-time viewers.

The extra cast of characters involved in Riddick are either one-dimensional (Dave Bautista), used as a wink-and-nod to the audience (Katee Sackhoff) or forgettable instantly (Nolan Funk, Keri Hilson).

This is solely Vin Diesel’s kingdom to lord over, as throughout the picture he imbues the character with his trademark deadpan style (which works), and shows off a softer side when he adopts a pet. But as the one-man army plots his own ways to survive, Riddick has a “been there, done that” appeal that ingratiates itself to newcomer and die-hard fan alike. “This ain’t nothing new,” he even laments during one voice-over.

Our hope is that the next time they raise this franchise from the dark, the filmmakers will shine a new and flashier light on it for audiences to enjoy.

Watch the Riddick trailer below:

Riddick is in theaters now.